By Katie Hart

I take 20-30 pills every day.

I test my blood regularly.

I get insulin injection shots daily, and that’s just the start.

But do you think that will stop me from living my life?

Not a chance.

My name is Katie Hart, I am 16 years old, I live in Yellowknife NWT, and I have cystic fibrosis as well as type 1 diabetes. Sport isn’t just about having fun for me, sport has kept me alive, it’s kept me healthy, it has allowed me to go out and push myself, see how far I can go and become a better person as well as an athlete.

I was born with CF and when I was 4 years old my parents put me in sports after urging from my doctors. They told my parents that being active would be a good thing for me. With CF, the mucus is thick naturally in my body not my lungs so it can build up really easily. But the endurance of running and skating and playing sports helps shake up my lungs and helps me get the mucus out. So playing sports is a big win for my body.

I was healthy for many years after that and involved in soccer and hockey until I was hospitalized for 2 weeks when I was 10 because my blood sugar levels were crazy high. That’s when they diagnosed me with type 1 diabetes. At that age, it was a pretty big obstacle because I was so young, but eventually, I just chalked it up to something else I knew I could overcome.

Sport also helps with diabetes as well because I monitor my blood sugar levels constantly so it helps me keep them at an average level which is important. So my lifestyle, my daily routine and my involvement in sport all revolve around my health, but in a good way.

This year I am in Grade 12 and plan to continue to play hockey in the winter, soccer in the summer, as well as maintain my honor roll grades so I have options for post-secondary education.

The reason I share my story is because my illness has not limited me from living my life and I hope that other young athletes who also have health issues won’t let them get in the way of playing sports.

Is it tough? Absolutely. I won’t sugarcoat the difficulties of it.

My everyday routine and life is so different from that of a regular healthy athlete. I have dozens of medications I take, I have regular insulin shots I take, I monitor my blood sugar levels all the time and even during games, I have to watch what I eat and I fly down to Edmonton every 3 – 6 months to see specialists that we just don’t have in Yellowknife.

However, I choose to look at the positives. I know that if it wasn’t for my involvement in sports that I would not be as healthy as I am today and I am lucky to have great support within my family. My parents have made the biggest impact on my life, always making sure I was taking care of myself and being active. I have an older brother and older sister who both have also shown me the way. I consider my sister my mentor and role model.

The biggest thing that I want everyone reading my story to know is that living with CF and diabetes, is part of my story, there is no escaping it. But it doesn’t define me.

So if you are like me and have an illness or are looking to overcome an obstacle in life or in sport, here’s my advice and what has worked for me:

  1. Never give up – You have to keep your head up even in failure and loss and learn from it. Push away the negatives out of your mind and focus on the small positives.
  2. Don’t be afraid to face challenges head-on. I have learned to face adversity in my life and not shy away from them.
  3. Be confident in what you do because nobody can do it just like you.

Lastly, my favorite quote that always gets me motivated is:

‘Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,’ by Kevin Durant.

Don’t let anything get in your way of what you want to do in your life. I know I haven’t.

See you on the field,